ATC Standard Phraseology Answers

 

Here is a repeat of the survey with the correct answers highlighted in green. An explanation of why a particular answer is correct follows. If you think the answers are wrong, or you think the question is bogus, go back to the survey page and tell me so in the comments section below the survey.

This Pop Quiz is on Standard Phraseology

Ground says, “Cirrus 842 India Papa, Runway 27, taxi via Bravo. Hold short of Runway 18.” Which of the following is the correct response?

“Cirrus 2 India Papa.”
“Cirrus 2 India Papa, we’ll do all that.”
“Cirrus 2 India Papa, Runway 27 via Bravo. Hold short of Runway 18.”
“Cirrus 2 India Papa, Runway 27. Hold short of Runway 18.”
“Cirrus 2 India Papa, taxiing via Bravo. Holding short of Runway 18.”

The best answer is 3, but answer 4 is also correct. When replying to taxi instructions, you should always repeat the runway you are taxiing to, and any runways requiring a hold short. You are not required to repeat the taxi route. It’s a good idea to repeat the taxi route so Ground can verify you heard correctly.

Oakland Center says “Twin Cessna 34 Mike, climb and maintain one three thousand.” Which of the following is the correct response?

“Twin Cessna 34 Mike, on up to thirteen.”
“34 Mike, climbing to one-three thousand.”
“Twin Cessna 34 Mike, climb and maintain thirteen thousand,.”
“Climb and maintain one-three thousand, Twin Cessna 34 Mike.”
“Twin Cessna 34 Mike, one-three thousand.”

Answer 4 is the best answer. Answer 5 is also acceptable. Answer 1 uses “thirteen,” instead of the pilot/controller glossary standard of saying altitude numerals individually, as in “one three.” Answer 1 is also missing the word “Thousand.” Answer 2 would be correct, except the pilot omitted his aircraft type.

Tower says, Beechjet 4542 Oscar, Miami Tower, Runway 8 Right, line up and wait. You should respond:

“Beechjet 4542 Oscar, line up and wait.”
“Beechjet 4542 Oscar, position and hold.”
“Beechjet 4542 Oscar, on to hold, 8 Right.”
“Beechject 4542 Oscar, Runway 8 Right, line up and wait.”

Answer 4 is the correct answer. You must state the runway identifier when acknowledging line up and wait instructions. Many airports have 2 runways right next to each other. At Miami International (MIA) for example, Runways 8R and 12 have thresholds that meet at the end of Taxiway N. It is absolutely critical that you read back the runway identifier to verify with tower that you are about to enter the correct runway. That makes Answer 1 dead wrong. Answers 2 and 3 use obsolete phraseology.

Tower says, “Mustang 712 Charlie Romeo, Town and Country Tower, on departure fly heading one nine zero, cleared for takeoff, Runway Two Two Right.” Your correct response would be:

“Heading one nine zero, cleared for takeoff, Mustang 2 Charlie Romeo.”
“Mustang Charlie Romeo, cleared to go, and heading one nine zero on departure.”
“One ninety on departure, and cleared for takeoff 22 Right, Mustang 2 Charlie Romeo.”
“Mustang Charlie Romeo, one nine zero heading.”

Answer 1 is the best answer. Answer 2 uses a non-standard “cleared to go.” Answer 3 does not use the correct single-digit format, “one nine zero,” for the heading and does not include the word “Heading.” Answer 4 omits “cleared for takeoff.” Note: You are not required to repeat the runway identifier when cleared for takeoff, though it’s a good idea.

Approach control says, “Learjet 9 Hotel Whiskey, turn right heading one eight zero, base turn. Reduce airspeed to one eight zero.” The best answer would be:

“One eighty, one eighty, Learjet 9 Hotel Whiskey.”
“Right one eight zero, and slowing, Learjet 9 Hotel Whiskey.”
“Learjet 9 Hotel Whiskey, right heading one eight zero, and reducing speed to one eight zero.”
“Learjet 9 Hotel Whiskey, heading one eight zero, and one eighty on the speed.”

Answer 3 is the best answer. Listen to the radios and you will hear every possible mutilation of this call from high-time pilots. The most common, and incorrect response you’ll hear is Answer 1. Answer 2 is not a complete readback. Answer 4 violates the single-digit readback rule for airspeed.

Approach Control says, “Cessna 56 November, maintain your best forward speed to the outer marker.” Your correct readback would be:

“Go fast, Cessna 56 November.”
“We’ll keep one hundred thirty knots to the marker, Cessna 56 November.”
“Cessna 56 November, best forward.”
“Best forward speed to the outer marker, Cessna 56 November.”

Answer 4 is your best answer. Answer 1 is non-standard. Answer 2 gives more information than the controller needs. You might say, “So what?” Stick to standard phraseology because approach controllers are busy and can’t afford the added distraction. Answer 3 is not enough information.

Boston Center says, “Citation 21 Kilo, descend and maintain one four thousand. Expect to cross the Providence VOR at one one thousand.” Your reply should be:

“Citation 21 Kilo, descending to one four thousand, and Providence at one one thousand.”
“Citation 21 Kilo, descend and maintain one four thousand, and expect Providence at one one thousand.”
“Citation 21 Kilo, one four thousand and one one thousand.”
“Citation 21 Kilo, descending to one four thousand.”

Answer 2 is the best answer. Answer 4 is acceptable because the announcement to expect one one thousand at Providence VOR is an advisory call. You are not required to read back advisories. Answers 1 and 3 are not only wrong, they are a setup for confusion at the least, and disaster at the worst. NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System is filled with reports of pilots that made unauthorized altitude changes because they interpreted “expect” clearances as actual directives to climb or descend. Don’t do it!

Albuquerque Center says, “Falcon 38 X-Ray, maintain at least one thousand five hundred feet per minute in your rate of descent.” Your readback should be:

“Falcon 38 X-ray, one thousand five hundred.”
“At least one thousand five hundred feet per minute in the descent, Falcon 38 X-ray.
“At least fifteen hundred vertical speed, Falcon 38 X-ray.”
“A rate of one thousand five hundred in the descent minimum, Falcon 38 X-ray.”

Answer 2 is standard phraseology and the best answer. Answer 4 is also okay, but the non-standard phrasing is odd enough that the controller will probably have to break his concentration to make sure he heard the readback correctly. Answer 1 omits the word “rate,” and could be mistaken for an altitude readback. Answer 3 is understandable, but non-standard on the digit readback.

You have been told to switch frequencies from one center sector to another. You are currently climbing through three thousand feet to your assigned altitude of four thousand feet. Which of the following is the correct way to check in on the new center frequency?

“Jax Center, Mooney 7278 Sierra, with you climbing to four thousand.”
“Jax Center, Mooney 78 Sierra, out of three thousand for four thousand.”
“Jax Center, Mooney 7278 Sierra, passing three for four.”
“Jax Center, Mooney 7278 Sierra, leaving three thousand, climbing to four thousand.”

Answer 4 is correct. Answer 1 omits the altitude you are passing. When checking in with a new controller, you should include your current altitude so the controller can match what he sees on his radar screen with what you are seeing on your instrument panel. (Granted ARTCC radar sweeps your aircraft about every 12 seconds, so the altitude the controller sees on his screen may be different from the altitude you check in with.) Answer 2 is incorrect because you should state your full callsign on initial contact with a new controller. Answer 3 is incorrect because it omits the word “thousand” twice.

Jeff, the author of this website asks you to add comments and questions to the articles and audio shows to make the website work better for you.
You talking to me? I have commented at the website!
I don’t comment because I am shy and I don’t want to reveal gaps in my knowledge by asking a question or making a “dumb” comment.
I avoid commenting because questions don’t get answered, comments don’t make a difference; and the web is for passive browsing anyways.
I won’t comment because I am here for the simulator and to heck with the articles.

If you selected Answer 2, guess what, the whole reason I am doing this is to fill in those gaps in knowledge. If I thought everyone knew everything there was to know about talking to ATC, I wouldn’t have started the website. My everyday experience flying and listening to the aircraft radios tells me there are plenty of questions to answer. So please, ask away so I can answer your questions instead of trying to guess what is on your mind. You can ask or comment anonymously if you are shy. You don’t need to register at the website to speak up.

If you selected Answer 3, let me tell you there has not been a question asked at the website that has not been answered. I get to every one. I almost always write my next article or produce the next audio show based on comments. The early stages of the simulator has already undergone five changes, all based on comments from people who have tested it.

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If you selected Answer 1, thank you, thank, thank you! You’ll never know how much that means to me and to the rest of the community that uses this website.

Jeff

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Ebbs May 29, 2011 at 9:18 pm

Editor’s Note: The problem pointed out in this comment was fixed. I left the comment because it raises a good teaching point. JK

None of the answers to the question below is correct.
Pilot may only abbreviate tail number after controller has abbreviated it in a framsmission. Controller may have similar tail numbers on freq, and may maintain full call sign throughout interaction with that pilot, to discriminate between such aircraft. Naughty!

Tower says, Beechjet 4542 Oscar, Miami Tower, Runway 8 Right, line up and wait. You should respond:

“Beechjet 42 Oscar, line up and wait.”
“Beechjet 42 Oscar, position and hold.”
“Beechjet 42 Oscar, on to hold, 8 Right.”
“Beechject 42 Oscar, Runway 8 Right, line up and wait.”

Reply

JeffKanarish May 31, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Richard:

You are correct sir! Here’s the quote from the Aeronautical Information Manual:

ATC specialists may initiate abbreviated call signs of other aircraft by using the prefix and the last three digits/letters of the aircraft identification after communications are established. The pilot may use the abbreviated call sign in subsequent contacts with the ATC specialist. (4-2-4 a. 2.) Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll fix the question when I return from vacation.

Jeff

Reply

JeffKanarish May 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Richard:

The question about Beechjet 4542 Oscar is fixed. Thank you for pointing it out.

Jeff

Reply

Joseph August 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm

I’ve been facinated with the idea of flighing an airplane and this is my first serious attempt to get informed about what’s required to start getting acquainted with the idea of becoming a pilot. So, by reading in several websites, I realized that 50% of the needed skill is becoming profficient at the radio. I tried one of your quizes and I wonder where do I start getting the basis for communicating over the radio.
Thank you so much for what you contribute to my enlightening.

Reply

JeffKanarish August 4, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Hello Joseph:

If you are interested in learning how to talk on the radios, you can begin right here with my Radio Call Anatomy Class. It starts at this link: Radio Call Anatomy 101. Next, look in the Aeronautical Information Manual which you can find online right here: AIM . Finally, you want to learn more about talking on the aircraft radio. This website right here is about what? Hmm. Oh! It’s all about talking on the aircraft radio. Look around ATCcommunication.com. There is plenty right here. Also, feel free to contact me with your questions: jeff@atccommunication.com.

Reply

Keith Plemmons June 9, 2013 at 12:44 am

Jeff,

Boston Center says, “Citation 21 Kilo, descend now to one four thousand. Expect to cross the Providence VOR at one one thousand.”

With respect to “expect”, what would the flight profile look like? Would 21 Kil0 level off at 14,000 while he’s “expecting” ATC to clear him on down to 11,000 in order to pass the VOR at that altitude?

And, have you dealt with “expect” somewhere on the website?

Thanks,

Reply

JeffKanarish June 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Hey Keith,

Good question. I get that clearance all the time when flying an arrival into Boston Logan. I have not talked about “expect” advisories at this website because they are in the domain of IFR radio procedures. ATCcommunication.com is primarily about VFR radio procedures. I have considering extending the website to IFR issues.

An “expect” advisory from ATC helps a pilot plan his descent profile to allow for an altitude restriction that will be issued in the near future. To conserve fuel, most pilots would like to cruise at the highest altitude possible and then descend at idle power at the last possible moment to meet a crossing restriction issued by ATC.

So, for example, ATC tells me to descend from my cruising altitude of 17,000 to 15,000. Knowing that I want to stay as high as possible for as long as possible, I’ll start a very easy, slow descent to 15,000. But, if ATC tells me to “expect” to cross the Providence VOR at 11,000, and the VOR is only 15 miles ahead, now I’m going to abandon any plan that conserves fuel and blast right down to 15,000. My new goal is to set myself up for the impending crossing restriction of 11,000 at Providence, even though that clearance has not yet been issued. The last thing I want to do is put myself in a position where I’m too high to glide down to 11,000 feet in the distance remaining to the VOR. In summary, I adjust my rate of descent to pt myself in a comfortable position to make the expected altitude restriction even though that clearance has not been officially given to me.

Reply

Cory January 29, 2014 at 9:27 am

Hi Jeff,

Completely off-topic, but would you share with me a bit of your experience in the A-10?

Many years ago, when Eielson was an A-10 base, I spent my days dreaming about having the opportunity to fly one. Strange plane for a kid to fantasize about, yes? Anyway, with my eyesight limiting me to the civilian world, I figured living vicariously through you would be the next best thing.

Cheers!

Cory

Reply

JeffKanarish January 29, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Cory,

I answered your request via email.

Jeff

Reply

Ivan guerrero June 8, 2014 at 12:03 am

I got a question on what is posted:
“Heading one nine zero, cleared for takeoff, Mustang 2 Charlie Romeo.”
“Mustang Charlie Romeo, cleared to go, and heading one nine zero on departure.”
“One ninety on departure, and cleared for takeoff 22 Right, Mustang 2 Charlie Romeo.”
“Mustang Charlie Romeo, one nine zero heading.”

Answer 1 is the best answer. Answer 2 uses a non-standard “cleared to go.” Answer 3 does not use the correct single-digit format, “one nine zero,” for the heading and does not include the word “Heading.” Answer 4 omits “cleared for takeoff.”

N o t e : You are NOT REQUIRED to repeat the runway identifier when cleared for takeoff, though it’s a good idea.

Are you sure this note applies for ICAO rules as

Thank you.

Reply

JeffKanarish June 8, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Ivan,

Of course there are a number of differences between U.S. and ICAO phraseology. For example, in the U.S. ATC will tell you to “Enter a right downwind.” ICAO phraseology for this would be: “Join a right hand downwind.” The ICAO manual says, “When there is a possibility of confusion” about which runway to use, ATC and pilots should say the runway number. So yes, if ATC is operating under ICAO rules and says the runway number, a pilot should repeat the runway number to avoid confusion. However, if you are lined up and waiting on the correct runway, and there is no possibility of confusion, you do not have to say the runway number.

Thank you for the question. I will clarify this in the next Radar Contact Show.

Jeff

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Ben Peden June 11, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Some of the questions are confusing because you should not have a same sounding word have multiple uses, for example for/four and to/too/two. It is confusing and should be stated as current altitude, climbing to new altitude…Ex- Three Thousand, Climbing Four Thousand/Five thousand descending two thousand.

Reply

JeffKanarish June 11, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Ben,

You have excellent attention to detail! I have fixed the survey based on your comment. Here is a quote from the AIM on checking in with a new air traffic controller:

2. The following phraseology should be utilized by pilots for establishing contact with the designated facility:
(a) When operating in a radar environment: On initial contact, the pilot should inform the controller of the aircraft’s assigned altitude preceded by the words “level,” or “climbing to,” or “descending to,” as appropriate; and the aircraft’s present vacating altitude, if applicable.
EXAMPLE−
1. (Name) CENTER, (aircraft identification), LEVEL (altitude or flight level).
2. (Name) CENTER, (aircraft identification), LEAVING (exact altitude or flight level), CLIMBING TO OR DESCENDING TO (altitude of flight level).

I’ve received comments before on the possible confusion between saying “Climbing to” and “Climbing two.” If I were climbing to 20,000, I would say climbing to “Flight Level two zero zero,” not, “Climbing to two zero zero.” Actually, any altitude in the 20’s should be preceded by the words “Flight Level” to distinguish them from altitudes in the 2000’s.

By the way, controllers are reminded they can rephrase an altitude for clarity after using the standard phrase. For example, a controller may say, “Climb and maintain one zero thousand. Ten thousand,” for clarity. Pilots may do this as well.

The original question which talked about descending for 4,000 was wrong. That is an old and very bad habit you’ll hear a lot of pilots use. You are absolutely correct it is also a setup for a misunderstanding. I fixed that question to reflect AIM guidance. Good catch. Thank you for writing.

Reply

amin October 15, 2015 at 6:49 pm

i listen to live ATC and i notice some people use different phraseology
then standard is it illegal?

Reply

JeffKanarish October 15, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Amin,

It is not illegal to use non-standard phraseology. It is probably not smart though. If using non-standard phraseology leads to a misunderstanding and that misunderstanding causes the pilot to do something that is not authorized by ATC, that could be illegal.

For example, if ATC says, “Climb and maintain 4,000,” and a pilot, due to misunderstanding, answers, “On up to 14,” what the pilot says is not illegal. If he then climbs to 14,000 instead of 4,000,” that is illegal. Non-standard phraseology is not illegal but it can lead to a misunderstanding on the radio. A misunderstanding may lead to an illegal action.

Good question!

Jeff

Reply

Michael January 23, 2016 at 6:39 am

I’m so glad I found your website,I will approach my R/T practical with more confidence when making calls.

Reply

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